Monthly Archives: January 2014

Another First Draft Finished…but it’s not The End

Yesterday, for the seventh time in five years, I typed an authors favorite two words…

the end

I’m speaking symbolically of course…I’ve never actually typed those words at the end of a novel. I don’t think I’ve ever even seen them in a book, but I did finish the first draft of my latest, as of yet untitled, novel.

The irony is that, now that the first draft is finished, it’s not the end at all…it’s really only the beginning.

There’s still a lot of work to do before it is ready for you. In the next few days I will distribute copies to my beta-readers and wait for their feedback.

Beta readers are the unsung heroes of the book-writing world, and I’m lucky to have some really good ones.

None of them worry about hurting my feelings and each of them has contributed something that has improved my work in the past.

Like any author worth their salt, I am extremely grateful for them, and any input they offer is always taken very seriously. That’s not to say I act on all of it, but I definitely pay attention.

A few of my betas have been with me since the beginning, and a couple of them have only done one book. Along the way there have been some people who thought they wanted to be a beta, but unfortunately they didn’t understand the job description, so I had to keep looking until I found suitable replacements.

Didn’t understand the job description? How is that possible? Read the book and tell the author what you think…right?

It doesn’t sound like a complicated task, and in fact it isn’t…once the ground rules are clearly defined and understood.

When an author asks for beta readers, they aren’t asking for somebody to read a draft and tell them it’s the best thing they’ve ever read. We aren’t delusional; we all know what Hemingway said…

first draft

No, what we are asking for is someone to read a first draft and punch holes in it.

Big holes.

We don’t want to hear about missing commas or spelling mistakes…that’s part of the editing process.

A beta reader’s primary responsibility is to tell the author what they didn’t like about the book.

  • Things that didn’t make sense in the story.
  • Characters that weren’t believable
  • Dialogue that didn’t ring true
  • Anything that made them stop and say well that just ain’t right

The author is asking you to rip the story to shreds. Even if it’s just as simple as saying The story just didn’t grab me.

So, for the next two or three weeks my book will be in the hands of  people who are tasked with picking it apart, so I can put it back together before I send it to the editor…who will then proceed to pick it apart some more.

All of this is done in hopes that you, the reader, won’t know how bad the first draft really was.

 not the end

 

As always – thank you for reading

19 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

The Apocalyptic Four

Today’s Reading Recommendation looks really interesting…

Reading Recommendations

253460_10151030239276603_469225808_nThe Apocalyptic Four
– AKA Eileen Bell, Randy McCharles, Ryan McFadden and Billie Milholland

What is your latest release and what genre is it? Our latest release was The Puzzle Box — a collaborative contemporary fantasy novel.

Quick description: It is a box that you can hold in the palm of your hand – but the contents will change your life forever. There is no simple way to open it: no hinges, locks, or clasps. To some, its six surfaces gleam like polished gold. To others, it appears dull and tarnished like a forgotten antique. For every person, solving the box will be different, with life-altering consequences.

“I have a great gift for you. Now I ask you: what do you want? What do you really want? You don’t have to tell me. It already knows.”

Albert Mallory, a down-on-his-luck archaeologist, begins to discover the true secrets of the Puzzle…

View original post 547 more words

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Special Guest Post from Children’s Author Mayra Calvani

It is my pleasure to bring you a guest post from children’s author Mayra Calvani…Enjoy

“How I Became a Children’s Author,” by Mayra Calvani

I used to think writing children’s books was boring. Writing for those demanding, whiny creatures? Are you kidding? Not for me. No thanks.

That was years ago.

These days, creating a picture book fills me with joy and excitement. Writing for children is like stepping into a fresh, magical, innocent, marvelous world of color and words. Writing for children is, in fact, like walking on a rainbow.

So how did the change happen?

I had children.

I once read an interesting post by another children’s author about how in order to write good children’s stories, one must know children. Of course, as always, there are exceptions to the rule, but in general, I find this observation to be true. This doesn’t necessarily mean that one must have children in order to write great children’s stories, but it does mean that one must interact with them, know their fears, fantasies, frustrations, dreams. In sum, one must have a clear idea of what goes on inside their little heads and hearts.

In my case, having children brought out a tender, gentler part of me to the surface, a part I didn’t know I had. Suddenly, as I read to my little daughter every night, picture books, with their beautiful and evocative illustrations, became very appealing to me. I don’t remember when the exact moment happened, the moment when I thought, ‘I want to write a children’s book.’ But I do know I went from extreme to extreme: from chilling horror to sweet picture books. Two very different worlds, but I’m able to switch from one to the other without much problem. In fact, each one serves as a refreshing break from the other. So I may work on a lovable children’s story in the morning, and dive into a disturbing psychological thriller scene in the afternoon. It’s fun, like having split personalities, without the crazy element (or at least, I hope so!).

So far, I’ve had eight picture books published, which you can find on my website at http://www.mayrassecretbookcase.com. Several more are on the way from Guardian Angel Publishing in 2014-15.

The world of children’s book publishing is extremely competitive, to say the least. It takes hard work, dedication, perseverance and commitment to become a published author. I know the stakes, but once you step into that magical rainbow, there’s no turning back.

A Bad Mad Sad Day for Mama Bear

By

Mayra Calvani

Bad Sad Day


Book blurb:

Little Bear offers Mama Bear various items to make her feel better, but she’s too busy to notice—until he gives her his super, so good, so very special dolly. Silly humor, alliteration, repetition, and onomatopoeia make this a fun read-aloud story. A celebration of the special love shared between mother and child. For ages 3-7.

Available as ebook, softcover and hardcover.

Bad Sad Day 2

Review snippets:

“Mayra Calvani magically intertwines two generations perspectives of one’s bad mad sad day through caring efforts and that together difficulties can be overcome. A Bad Mad Sad Day for Mama Bear is sure to be a delightful time shared by parents and their young muses.” –Amazon reviewer

“The humor of the story, married with the artwork, leaps off the page. After seeing the illustrations, you can’t imagine the story any other way. With so much to read and see on every page, it is truly captivating – a delight for eye and ear.” –Amazon reviewer

“Enter Mayra Calvani’s world with this sweet and funny story about a little bear that wants to help his overwhelmed mom, who is having a bad, sad and mad day. A great story teaching the little ones, in a fun way, that adults aren’t perfect and can have bad days too. Children will enjoy the illustrations. A wonderful gift for this upcoming Christmas!” –Amazon reviewer

A Bad Mad Sad Day for Mama Bear

By Mayra Calvani

Illustrations by KC Snider

Guardian Angel Publishing

Hardcover ISBN: 9781616334345; $15.95

Softcover ISBN: 9781616334352; $10.95

eBook ISBN: 9781616334369; $4.99

24 pages

Purchase Links:

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Bad-Mad-Sad-Mama-Bear/dp/1616334355

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Bad-Mad-Sad-Mama-Bear/dp/1616334347

Guardian Angel Publishing: http://www.guardianangelpublishing.com/mama-bear.htm

About the Author:

Mayra

Mayra Calvani writes fiction and nonfiction for children and adults and has authored over a dozen books, some of which have won awards. Her stories, reviews, interviews and articles have appeared on numerous publications both in print and online. She gives one-on-one workshops on the art of picture book writing. She lives in Belgium with her husband, two wonderful kids, and her two beloved pets.

Website: http://www.mayrassecretbookcase.com/

Blog: http://mayrassecretbookcase.blogspot.be/

Facebook Fan Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Mayra-Calvanis-Fan-Page/162383023775888?ref=hl

Twitter: https://twitter.com/mcalvani

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/272703.Mayra_Calvani

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Making a Long Story Short

Recently Armand Rosamilia and I were talking and he planted a seed in my mind about writing a short story, featuring my main character Ike, for a local event here in Flagler Beach called The Inspired Mic.

The Inspired Mic is basically an open mic night for authors, and Armand thought it would be a good idea for me to read a new short story rather than an excerpt from one of my existing novels.

program

I agreed and wrote the story. It was an Ike Christmas story, and I had fun writing it.

It was very well received, and I enjoyed writing it so much that I wrote another one (just for fun, I told myself) about New Year’s Eve.

After the second one was done Armand suggested writing one for each of the holidays and releasing them in an anthology. I thought it was a good idea and since there were a couple of months before the next holiday (St. Patrick’s Day) I returned my focus to my current work-in-progress – a novel with the working title Protect This.

Then, a few days later, somebody posted a quote from Ray Bradbury on facebook that threw a wrench into my gears.

The quote said “Write a short story every week. It’s not possible to write 52 bad short stories in a row.”

short story

It appealed to me for a few reasons;

  • It could be a nice weekly distraction from writing a novel
  • It would be an extension/improvement of Armand’s idea
  • It would help me learn more about Ike and share it with his fans

Ike shirt front

My plan was simple: Each week I would write the short story on Saturday, leaving me Sunday and any free weeknights for working on the novel.

Saturday morning I sat down at the computer with the idea for my weekly short story and started writing. After 7 hours I was ready to quit and watch some TV but the story was only 2/3 finished.

snoopy

No problem…I’ll finish it up first thing in the morning and then dive into the novel.

Not so much…

It took me the better part of Sunday to finish, and by the time I was done I just didn’t have the mental energy to change gears and work on the novel.

So here we are three weeks later and my novel is in a holding pattern – but I’ve written three good stories for the anthology – so I’ve got that going for me.

I’ve also got a cool idea for story number four…and I had an idea for a cool quasi-horror short story…

I may need to cancel my cable TV account.

As always – thanks for reading

13 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Between Authors and Their Characters

My friend Susan shares some thoughts about characters…

Books: Publishing, Reading, Writing

1560372_671865609518740_1749029338_n

I’ve had this problem, although I think in my case it’s more the other way around and I don’t want to talk with my imaginary friends at the moment. I published my first novel in 2012 and have #’s 2, 3 and 4 pretty well written. But on revisiting #2 in preparation for publication, I discovered that it really required a total revamp. There were some characters who had been carried over from the first novel and, when reconsidering the storyline, I decided it was time to get rid of them (no, not by killing them off, but by just writing them out of the story) and replace them with some fresh blood – some truly imagined characters who I thought were a better fit. So I began writing these new character into the storyline and invented new material, scenes, for them so that they could then take over the…

View original post 301 more words

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

STILL DYING 2: Zombie Anthology

Get a sneak peak at this awesome zombie anthology…

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Jerold Last

Of course it goes without saying that anything to do with dogs catches my eye…so it’s no surprise that I was attracted to this one, but after reading Jerold’s bio…wow. The Deadly Dog Show is definitely on my TBR list.

Reading Recommendations

Author photoJerold Last

What is your latest release and what genre is it?The Deadly Dog Show is a mystery. Because one of the lead characters is a dog, Amazon calls it a “cozy”. I’d call it “hard-boiled” or “noir”, but with clean language and no gratuitous sex. I guess that means it’s somewhere between those various genres.

Quick description:The Deadly Dog Show, a suspenseful journey into the world of canine conformation contests, provides an exciting backdrop for murder. Roger Bowman, private eye, is hired to investigate mysterious occurrences at California dog shows. Before long, Roger is working undercover at the dog shows impersonating an owner, dead bodies are accumulating, and a mysterious stalker is pursuing Roger’s wife, Suzanne. The reviewers are enthusiastic about this whodunit novel, which should appeal to mystery readers, dog lovers, and anyone else who wants to learn more about the world of dog show…

View original post 548 more words

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

How NOT to Build Your On-Line Following

Last week on my radio show (Friday Night Writes, co-hosted by Armand Rosamilia) we discussed two separate topics which I’m going to fuse into one for the purposes of this blog post.

cover4

The two topics were Twitter Tips for Authors and Authors Should View Each Other as Teammates Rather Than Competition.

I’ve been on Twitter since 2010, but I really didn’t start using it regularly until 2012 when Armand gave me a crash course – so I am not, by any stretch of the imagination, an expert.

However…

There is one thing about Twitter that is, to me anyway, common sense. It also applies to Facebook, Pinterest, Blogging, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc.

It Doesn’t Cost You Anything to Follow Back.

Seriously.

As Independent Authors, we rely on social media to expand our audience and reach out to potential readers. Unfortunately some authors treat it like a competition…like we are all fighting over that one reader.

On a typical day I will follow anywhere from 10 to 50 new people. Many of them are other authors, but not all. Generally, about 75% of the people I follow will return the courtesy and follow me back. Most of the people who don’t are usually large entities who can’t possibly follow every one of their followers.

twitter followers

For example, this morning I followed the Library of Congress (@librarycongress). They have over 550,000 followers, yet they only follow 7, and 3 of those are other branches of the LoC.

I truly don’t expect a return follow from them.

At the same time that I followed the LoC, I also followed several other people, and within 2 hours almost all of them had followed me back.

There were 3 (all Independent Authors) who sent me direct messages.

The messages were worded differently, but all said basically the same thing…

Thank you for following me, let’s connect on Facebook too.

message

Okay. No problem.

I’m all about the networking…

I proceeded to click the link they so thoughtfully provided to their facebook fan page and give it a like.

I then tried to send a reply to them saying I had connected with them on facebook, and I also provided them with a link to my facebook fan page.

I hit send and got a red flag saying I was not allowed to send a direct message to this person because they do not follow me.

This happened for all three of them.

message2

You took the time to send me a message asking me to like your facebook page, but you can’t follow me back?

So guess what I did.

That’s right. I unfollowed them.

 

This is the way I see it…

You are an Independent Author…I am an Independent Author and we are both trying to succeed in a pursuit where the odds are decidedly against us.

I can’t speak to your reasons for not wanting to follow another author, but I can give you my reasons for doing it…

Authors read too…yeah, that’s right – not only are we writers – we are also readers. So every time you don’t return a follow you have alienated both a colleague and a potential reader.

Authors have readers…think about it – establishing a two-way connection with other authors opens the door to attracting some of their followers.

You might learn something…at the absolute minimum; you should view connecting with other authors as a chance to learn something new and helpful. None of us know it all, but all of us know something.

 

Being an Independent Author is not for the timid. It’s long hours and hard work for very little money. On a dollar-per-hour basis, we’d probably do better flipping burgers.

Doesn’t it make more sense to work as a team, rather than trying to fly solo?

If we all help each other we all win.

People buy lots of books. I know people who read as many as five books a week. It’s not like buying a car or a house…we are not salespeople competing for that one buyer’s money.

book salesman

So when another author follows you on Twitter (or any social media platform), take a few seconds to follow them back…it costs you nothing and you’re helping all of us.

 

As always – thank you for reading

33 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized